Ms. Software Engineer
- 326 GRE (168Q, 158V, 4AW)
- 3.5 GPA
- Undergraduate degree in computer engineering from a Top 20 Indian college in top 10% of class
- Work experience includes 18 months as an applications engineer in Cloud-based software product development at a Top 5 Tech Company (Think Oracle, Microsoft, IBM); only female engineer working on this product; also one of first eight employees of a tech startup during college that won two international awards and received national media coverage
- Internships include working as a market analyst in a cyber-security firm; worked as a research intern with the government of India on a project for nuclear power generation
- Extracurricular involvement in a pro bono consulting project for an educational initiative to help underprivileged high school students; student class representative; volunteer for several initiatives at work, including leadership of a green initiative; member of college rowing team; performed at several dance shows, was lead singer in a band during college and part of college music team; loves trekking in the Himalayas, rafting, adventure sports, and painting
- Short-Term Goal: To transition into a product management role at a top tech company
- Long-Term Goal: To transition into a VP role at a Silicon Valley startup
- “Grew up in two countries. Speak five languages fluently”
- 22-year old Asian-American female
Odds of Success:
Harvard: 30% to 40%
Stanford: 20% to 25%
Brigham Young: 50%+
Sandy’s Analysis: I think this is a silver-plated, not gold-plated, resume and application. At 22, you are on the young side as an applicant. For most of these schools that is either young or the young side of normal. Your undergraduate education wasn’t at one of the IITs in India. Your GRE score on the quant side is almost perfect, 168 out of 170, but on the low side on verbal. It all translates into a lopsided 710 GMAT. That is another silver, but not gold, feature.
There is no issue with you. You work in what appears to be a major American company. As the only female engineer on the team, that checks the box and is a gold job with a big tech company. And you have some solid internships. So you’ve worked in a startup and for the government of India. You have worked in a lot of different environments.
Your extras are impressive, too. You are a regular Josephine, a well-rounded, balanced, smart person.
Your short-term goal is a plus, but your long-term goal makes me think you need some Amy Cuddy advice. Amy is a Harvard Business School professor with one of the most viewed TED talks of all time. Her message is simple: Stand up straight or adopt power poses. That’s what you need to do. You don’t say “I want to transition into a VP role.” You say you want to be a leader of an innovative, growing tech company. Saying you want to be a VP signals that you are not really cut out for the top job.
I don’t think you are going to get into Stanford because you lack the X factor. Stanford admits women engineers who have two things you don’t have: an engineering degree from one of the IITs, and volunteer work that demonstrates that you have helped people beyond yourself, rather than being on your college rowing team. I don’t mean to be dismissive, but you just have to know that about Stanford. That’s the way they cut the bacon. Your odds might go up if there is a shortage of female, Desi engineers in the cohort.
At Harvard, this is a situation where your Harvard essay could actually make a difference. What you have to do is just sound really likable. You have got to say, “I want to tell you some things about me and what they mean.” And you have to do it in a way that doesn’t brag about anything you’ve done. You have to cover what it felt like being a lead singer in a music group, what you felt like as a volunteer, how you negotiate being the only woman engineer, and what you learned from working in the government of India. If you can give a likable, shrewd, self-knowing, non-bragging, quick account of those experiences, someone in admissions might put it down and say, “Wow. this woman has done a lot and she seems to get along and value everything and every place.” That could push you into Harvard.